This month we are taking you to Los Angeles, the city of angels, to discover the story behind an eyewear company that has been turning heads for 40 years - l.a.Eyeworks.
Conceived in Los Angeles in 1979 by two opticians and friends, Gai Gherardi and Barbara McReynolds, l.a.Eyeworks went on to revolutionise eyewear by taking chances with colours and shapes that nobody else was doing at the time.
They were at the forefront of the early 80’s eyewear renaissance, alongside Theo and Alain Mikli. Today they are still known for pushing the envelope in fashion, challenging the norms and creating world-class eyewear.
The duo opened l.a.Eyeworks in 1979 on Melrose Avenue surrounded by other forward thinking retailers who were attracted to this area that went on to become one of the most vibrant destinations in the city. Bored by what was considered normal eyewear - “big awful things with something slapped on the side, logos and nothing to do with real design or fashion” - the optical pioneers wanted to shake up the world of eyewear.
They started buying military issue glasses. “We loved the generic style and honesty to them. We though let’s trick these out. Let’s dye them, drill them full of holes, sandblast them, put mirrored lenses in. We went about it this way because they were the inly frames we could find to buy that we actually liked. At the time we didn’t know how to make a pair of glasses. We had to figure it out ourselves.” said Gai.
Within a year, these customised frames were going down so well that the store was often mobbed, and they had to employ a doorman to keep things under control!
Soon enough Gai and Barbara started thinking about designing and making their own frames. This took them to Paris and to small French eyewear factories where they presented their drawings and design ideas, explaining what they wanted to do. That was the start of the l.a.Eyeworks brand and manufacturing their own frames not just for their own store but for other independent opticians across the world who shared their passion for individual eyewear. What set l.a.Eyeworks apart in the early days was that each style was available in a palette of 12 colours and since then l.a.Eyeworks has always been obsessed with hues, tones and textures.
Having recently celebrated their 40th anniversary, today l.a.Eyeworks is a brand with iconic status. The frames are still designed in L.A. and handmade in France. Their operation and manufacture are more sophisticated, but the aesthetic and philosophy of pushing boundaries is as resonant as ever. The l.a.Eyeworks identity is strong.